On a night when the TRU WolfPack was mostly without its biggest players, Akeem Pierre became huge.
The WolfPack beat the UNBC Timberwolves 78-63 in a Canada West men's basketball game at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday. TRU, now 1-1, is off to Vancouver to play the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday and Saturday.
Ivan Bozinovic missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury, and his twin brother, Blaz, was in foul trouble throughout. With the 6-foot-10 Bozinovic brothers mostly unusable, Pierre played like a giant, not someone generously listed in the program as standing 5-foot-11.
It wasn't the first time he was called in to get some rebounds - while playing high school ball for the Richmond-R.C. Palmer Griffins, he played post.
"We had a bunch of short guys on that team, so I kind of had to play there," said the 22-year-old guard, who is in his second season at TRU after two at UBC. "(Saturday), they asked me to get on the glass and make up for some of our big guys being out."
Pierre, who only played nine minutes off the bench in the first half, was on the floor for most of the second half. He ended with 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes.
And as good as Pierre played in the second half, TRU wouldn't have had any sort of lead had guard Brett Rouault not been on fire early.
With UNBC leading 5-3, Rouault made four straight three-pointers. After that, the WolfPack never led by fewer than six points.
"They were open looks and (Rouault) had his feet set," said WolfPack head coach Scott Clark. "When he has his feet set, he can shoot the ball."
TRU got big plays from all of its players. Will Ondrik hit a huge three-pointer to end a UNBC rally in the third quarter, and Kevin Pribilsky always seemed to come through with a big play when one was needed.
Pierre put in a consistent, crash-and-bang performance. He was all over the court - and often on his backside on the court - creating havoc for the Timberwolves on both ends of the court.
It was a Pierre basket early in the fourth quarter that demoralized the Timberwolves, who were down 10 at the time. Pierre picked up a wayward shot under the UNBC basket, realized the shot clock was winding down, and tossed up a turnaround jumper.
It went in, drawing the biggest cheer of the night from the 180 or so fans in attendance. It was the start of a 9-0 run for the WolfPack and the beginning of the end for UNBC.
"He kicked the ball loose, he did a good job defensively, he got under their skin a little bit and got to the foul line because of that," Clark said. "That's a role that Akeem has to fill, and he did a great job of it today."
Rouault ended with 25 points, with Ondrik scoring 17. Blaz Bozinovic, in only 19 minutes on the floor, had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Francis Rowe had 17 points to lead UNBC, which got 14 points from Joel Rybachuk and 10 from Sam Raphael.
The WolfPack had a solid defensive performance on opening weekend, even if it only led to one victory. Clark spoke before the season of improving defensively, and it appears as though that is happening.
"We're pleased with that," he said. "We didn't value the ball enough (29 turnovers) and I thought the glass, we could have cleaned that up a bit.
"If we do those things, then you make yourself a tough out."
he WolfPack women are 2-0 after beating the visiting Timberwolves 83-62 on Saturday. TRU is off to Vancouver to play the T-Birds on Friday and Saturday.
Jen Ju made six three-pointers in a 27-point performance for the WolfPack and Diane Schuetze had 18 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots. Tracy Kocs had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Bringing everything together was third-year point guard Jorri Duxbury, who had 16 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals.
"She came out and found the right people in the right spots," said WolfPack head coach Scott Reeves. "She was attacking more aggressively, which gets her feeling better."
Mercedes VanKoughnett had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead UNBC. Emily Kaehn scored 15 points, and Jordyn Rabbitt had 10 points and nine rebounds.
he WolfPack is 0-4 in Canada West women's volleyball after a four-set (25-13, 25-14, 19-25, 25-18) loss to the host Brandon Bobcats on Saturday.
Carly Nelson had 12 kills to lead the WolfPack, with Katarina Osadchuk getting 11 kills.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play the Trinity Western Spartans in Langley on Friday and Saturday.
RU's men's volleyball team improved to 3-1 after a four-set (16-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18) victory over host Brandon on Saturday.
Blake Majcher, a transfer libero originally from Brandon, had 16 digs to lead TRU. Hardy Wooldridge, with 11 kills, and Brad Gunter, with 10 kills and nine digs, had big nights for the WolfPack.
The WolfPack is off to Langley on Friday and Saturday for two matches against defending-CIS champion Trinity Western.
he WolfPack is 3-4 in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League after losing twice at home on the weekend.
TRU lost 6-3 to the visiting Eastern Washington Eagles on Saturday at Memorial Arena, after falling 7-4 to the Selkirk Saints on Friday. The WolfPack is scheduled to go to Cheney, Wash., to play the Eagles on Nov. 16 and 17.
Eastern Washington scored five second-period goals on Saturday. Uriah Machuga, formerly of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, J.R. Strait and Jake Flynn each had a goal and two assists for the Eagles, and Ryan Pajimola, Elliott Martin and Nick Redding each scored once. Goaltender Cash Ulrich made 33 saves in the victory.
Jarrett Martin, Colten De Frias and Lucas Daoust scored for TRU, which got 24 saves from Riley Wall.
On Friday, the WolfPack got a goal and two assists apiece from Alessio Tomassetti and De Frias, along with singles from Martin and Jake Howardson. Shane Mainprize stopped 26 shots.
Jordan Wood and Jackson Garrett each had two goals for Selkirk, and Connor McLaughlin, Thomas Hardy and Cody Fidgett scored one goal apiece. Alex Sirard stopped 27 shots.
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